Everyone who has been saving their money since their announcement in 2015 can finally break open the piggy bank.
Ok, we’re going to boast a little bit here. Whilst we collectively ‘lost our shit’ over the announcement of the Husqvarna Vitpilen and Svartpilen concepts being released at EICMA in 2015, the other UK journalists that we spoke to at the time all replied with a unified ‘meh‘, ‘whatever‘ and ‘they’re just tarted up KTMs‘.
Seriously. Whilst everyone ran off to whatever the next, random reveal was at the end of that evening in November of 2015, it was pretty much just us left staring at the new bikes with our jaws on the floor. Well, us and the designer Maxime Thouvenin. It was literally just us from MF, Maxime himself and a couple of Husqy/Kiska design colleagues remaining on the floor.
It was the perfect time to do a quick interview and we ended up with the exclusive news that it was to be Thouvenin who had been offered the job to continue with the design of all Husqvarna production models moving forward.
Now, we would love to think that it was our single, enthusiastic voice at the time that made the rest of the stale, dead-inside press change their minds over the coming weeks and years, but – quite frankly – the desire for these machines was set in stone from the moment that the photos from within the press kit started to hit design forums and the mainstream press online that people started to change their minds.
The design language was unique, perhaps even radical when compared to everything else out at the time and it was different enough to really make the jump from ‘just another motorcycle’ to something that maybe, just maybe, people will put up on their bedroom walls and begin dreaming of riding one day.
Well, now that time has come people. Because by the end of March, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401, Svartpilen 401 and Svartpilen 701 will all be available to buy from dealers.
In Europe the two 401-based machines are already within showrooms, with the Svartpilen 701 joining them by the close of the month, and Husqvarna promise that North American, South American, Asian and Australian markets will have bikes in dealers before the end of April.
Pricing is very specific based upon region – so you’re encouraged to check with your local markets before smashing open that piggy bank – but here within the UK, the RRP of the Svartpilen 401 is £5,599, the Vitpilen 401 is £5,599 and the larger Svartpilen 701 will set buyers back a little more at £8,899.
Now go… Go MF’ers… Head to your dealers and prove to the world that when a motorcycle manufacturer actually makes an effort and looks to the future with their design language that we will all pay attention.
Also, tell them to make that Aero fairing from the 401 concept available as an add-0n!
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Custom of the Week: Harley-Davidson ‘XG750R’ Street Rod Flat Tracker by Noise Cycles
IF YOU LIKE WEAVING through city traffic during the week, and then blasting through the twisties on your days off, the Street Rod is probably the best Harley for you.
We found it to be surprisingly sharp and agile, with a warmed-up version of the regular Street engine delivering 69 frisky horses.
Scott Jones of Noise Cycles likes the Street Rod. And his new ‘XG750R’ tracker version has got us wondering what a factory Harley tracker would look like—if Milwaukee decided to counter the threat posed by Indian’s FTR1200.
Scott is one of the top bike builders in the USA, and despite coming from the chopper side of the tracks, he’s been bitten by the dirt bug. Last year he built himself a racebike based on the regular Street 750: “It started out as just the basic XG,” says Scott. “So this year, I built one using the Street Rod—which has a 27 degree neck instead of 31 degrees.”
That simple change alone made a huge difference. “This one feels so much better and easier to ride. Still 500 pounds, but more nimble.”
Those of you who were riding in the early 80s may feel a slight sense of déjà vu with this bike, and you’d be right. The left-side exhaust mimics the placement of the Harley-Davidson XR1000 pipes, and the paint by Matt Ross (with pin striping by Jen Hallett Art) is a nod to the slate grey used on many XR1000s too.
Scott’s not going to be dicing for the lead with pros like Jared Mees or Brad Baker in the American Flat Track Twins series. He’s in it just for the hell of it, and enjoying every moment.
But he’s also inadvertently given us a pointer on what a Harley Street Tracker might look like. And it wouldn’t be a difficult bike for the factory to replicate, Red Bull catch can aside. Any takers?
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Custom of the Week: KTM ‘950SMR’ by Max Hazan
THERE’S A DEFINITE STYLE to a Hazan Motorworks bike: a hint of steampunk, lots of beautifully twisted and burnished metal, and impossibly elegant proportions.
It’s an expensive endeavor, and Max operates in the same rarified atmosphere as Ian Barry of Falcon and the Japanese moto-artist Chicara Nagata.
Luckily, there are collectors and museums that have the funds to commission bikes like this, so the rest of us can enjoy them vicariously. But what happens when Max builds a bike for himself, with his own money?
This KTM is the answer. It’s a far cry from his previous KTM build, the supercharged 520 that now resides in the Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas. But it’s a killer track machine, and just the thing Max needs when he wants to blow off steam.
Surprisingly, ‘950SMR’ is the first bike that Max has built for himself. So it was done in the down time between the projects that pay his bills. (“I completely lost track of how much time went into it.”)
The base is a 2005-spec 950 SM. It’s a tall bike—which suits Max’s lofty physique—with around 98 horsepower in stock trim, 17-inch wheels, and a dry weight of just 191 kilos (421 pounds). Contemporary road testers raved about the performance and fun factor.
“It’s possibly the ugliest bike KTM made with that motor,” Max admits. “But the bones were there. The KTM was carbureted from the factory, which let me simplify the design by avoiding EFI parts.”
Stylistically, it’s no flight of fancy: just a well-sorted bike with terrifically simple bodywork and a sophisticated warm grey and white paint scheme. “I wanted the bike to look ‘factory’,” says Max.
“I wanted it to have fenders and bodywork, and not look like a KTM that was chopped. With almost everything being rearranged, it was a lot more work than it looks like. But I guess that was the idea.”
It might be hard to believe, but Max has pulled around 100 pounds—45 kilos—off the 950 SM. (“It was built like a tank.”)
So what’s it like to ride? “It has a huge amount of engine braking,” he says. “It’s geared for about 120mph in sixth, and was in need of a slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts in the lower gears. But I just found myself ‘backing it in’ wherever I was going, as soon as I installed it.”
Everything about this KTM screams ‘track machine,’ but it’s actually 100% street legal. “It’s wired for lights and turn signals, and has a full setup that can be taken on or off in a few minutes,” says Max. “But I just prefer looking at it like this.”
It’s certainly a looker. But unlike many customs from premier league builders, Max’s KTM offers visceral as well as visual pleasures. We can’t imagine Max releasing a kit version of these mods, but if you have one of KTM’s big supermotos in your garage, there’s a ton of inspiration to be gained right here.